Heaven Seems a Little Closer

Teewinot 2

Ever have days when heaven seems a little closer? I had some this past week when our church secretary passed away.

Paula had a loving, helpful spirit that welcomed and ministered to all who called or stopped by the church office. Over the years, she also offered me great support in various ministries I’ve been involved in, and most recently she faithfully encouraged me in my writing journey. And yes, she was one of my blog readers. She even asked for help in learning how to leave a comment. If she had too much trouble with it, she’d been known to drop me an email or give me a call to let me know she enjoyed a particular post.

As I worked through my thoughts and feelings upon first hearing the news of her death, my heart went out to her family, friends, and our church staff who worked beside her each day. I thought of their loss and how deeply it must hurt.

But then I thought of Paula — alive and in heaven. I thought of all she was hearing and seeing for the first time. I thought of my friend Amy, who was taken from us so unexpectedly last year, and how she and Paula must be once again laughing and talking together. And in that moment heaven seemed so much closer.

Have you ever felt like that when someone you know and love passes from this earth? Does it make you feel a little closer to heaven?

I’m thankful there are other things — easier things — that can make us feel closer to heaven, too. Enjoying the sights and sounds of God’s creation ushers me into His presence without fail. Times of prayer and worship can carry me there as well.

What about you? What makes heaven a little closer for you?

“How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.” Psalm 84:1-2

*This one’s for you, Paula…

*My photo

Extra Sweet Winner, Extra Sweet Promise

Someone’s Mother’s Day is about to get a little sweeter! Time to announce the winner of the Extra Sweet Giveaway. The $15 gift card to Godiva goes to Teri! Congratulations, Teri ! Heavenly times ahead, huh?

As for the rest of you, try not to feel too left out. After all, we who’ve given our hearts to Jesus have heavenly times ahead, too — and I’m not talking chocolate. I’m talking eternal life in heaven with Him.

Just look at these promises from the Word of God:

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23

Jesus said, “‘In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.'” John 14:2-3

And finally, recorded in the Word of God is what was revealed to the Apostle John:

“I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'”

Ah, the hope and promise of heaven… You can’t get much sweeter than that!

*Flickr photo by Jeff Belmonte

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Face to Face…with T. Suzanne Eller and a Girl Named Flea

Who would think that when I started visiting and interacting on the Boomer Babes Rock blog (which is no longer operating) that I might one day meet one of the blogger/authors and a fellow commenter? Well, last night it happened!

Author, speaker, and columnist T. Suzanne Eller (known by friends as Suzie) stood side by side with two of the gals she’s become acquainted with online — me and Flea! That’s right — Flea! :)

And what brought the three of us together? My writers group, Fellowship of Christian Writers, celebrated its 30th anniversary Tuesday night, and Suzie, one of its past presidents, was our special speaker. We considered ourselves lucky, as she regularly teaches at writers conferences nationwide and is the author of six books and over 700 articles. Flea, a member of another writers group, attended ours last night especially to meet Suzie. Meeting me was a bonus :) We had more or less lost track of each other when the Boomer Babes site shut down.

Suzie, Flea, and I had more than writing on our minds yesterday evening, though. We were busy celebrating our friendship. Getting to see each other face to face thrilled each of us, and we took advantage of the time by sitting together at supper, taking some photos (thanks for the pics, Flea!), and grabbing hugs before we headed off to our own corners of the world again.

In one short evening, what had been friendly online relationships turned into real people, in-the-flesh friendships. I’ve experienced this a couple of other times with Renae and Cec as well, and no matter how you look at it, it’s good stuff :)

Are you longing for a face to face with someone? I hope to meet many of you other online friends someday, but the real face to face I’m longing for is the one with Jesus, my Savior and friend of over 45 years.

Now, I’m not trying to hurry my time on earth. I’m just looking forward to the day when my faith will be made sight, when I will see Him face to face. I’m looking forward to heaven. Anyone else?

“Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12

My Pick, Your Pick, God’s Pick

Here’s your chance. Time to weigh in with your Idol pick. You didn’t think I’d let American Idol go by this year without a mention on the blog, did you? :)

Idol has been loaded with talent this season. In fact, I think this particular group of finalists, especially now that we’re down to the top five, shines like no other group has in previous years. The contestants remaining are definitely the cream of the crop, each one with his or her own unique abilities and sound. At this point, it’s exciting just to see what they’re going to do from week to week.

With that said, let’s go ahead and get down to the nitty gritty. Who’s your favorite? Your pick to win it all? As much as I like Danny and think he’s super-talented, my number one pick is Adam. He simply outshines everyone consistently from week to week. As far as I’m concerned this season, he’s in a class by himself — vocally and performance-wise. Every time he sings, he does something to amaze me. He’s crazy good.

Now I know we’re going to have some differences of opinion on this matter of a favorite — that’s okay :) Go ahead and sing the praises of your pick with a comment. It’ll be fun to see who you all are pulling for and why.

Okay, we’ve done my pick and your pick — now what about God’s pick? You know what I think? I think He’s already picked them all.

In fact, He’s already picked us all. He’s crazy about us. He loves us so much He sent His Son into the world to make a way for us to be with Him forever. He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance(2 Peter 3:9b KJV) and spend eternity in heaven with Him. Yes, He loves us all. Amazing, huh? We need only to accept His love and place our faith in Him.

So as for me? I choose Him back. I’d say He’s in a class all by Himself. He’s crazy good!

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 KJV

Flickr photo by Chris Owens

**The next issue of Life Notes, my free quarterly inspirational newsletter, will come out the first of May. Don’t miss out — sign up to receive it if you haven’t already (see sidebar). Thanks!

Heaven Is Real: A Book Review

Did you have a wonderful Easter celebration this weekend? Sure hope so. Since we’ve been thinking about the hope of heaven that Christ’s resurrection gives us, I thought this would be a good time to share a review of a book written by a man who died, spent 90 minutes in heaven before being brought back to life, and then had to once again discover how to experience joy in earthly living.

Book Review: Heaven Is Real by Don Piper and Cecil Murphey

“Heaven is real. I know it because I’ve been there and back…This book isn’t about my journey to heaven; it’s about my journey back toward heaven,” Don Piper states in Heaven Is Real: Lessons on Earthly Joy, a follow-up to the NY Times Bestseller 90 Minutes in Heaven. Both are co-authored with Cecil Murphey.

Don’s life forever changed on a bridge in Texas in 1989, and in this book he uses the image of a bridge as a “connecting point between drastic changes in life.” Don says, “The bridges you face in your life may not be the same [as mine], but I can assure you that one thing will be similar: You will experience life-altering change—we all do…You won’t be able to go back to the way things were; you will have to find a ‘new normal.’”

Heaven Is Real reveals the lessons Don learned as he accepted and eventually embraced “the new normal” life thrust upon him. Quotes and stories of lives impacted by the true story he shared in 90 Minutes in Heaven also fill its pages. These lessons and stories of changed lives offer hope and encouragement to all readers who are themselves faced with a new normal. To those who aren’t in the midst of change, it offers a deeper understanding of those who are and also prepares them for the changes the future most certainly holds.

The most vital message of the book, however, can be found in the last few pages. After many assurances given throughout about the reality of heaven, Don tells readers how to prepare for heaven—how to get there. His appeal to everyone? “Please make your reservation.”

In addition to being an author now, Don Piper is a full-time, internationally recognized evangelist as well as a conference and retreat leader. He is known as “The Minister of Hope.” Co-author Cecil Murphey is the author of over 110 books and is also a minister, writing mentor, and conference speaker who recently experienced a life-altering change himself.

I highly recommend this book and encourage you to check out Piper’s and Murphey’s websites. Let these two men help you navigate the challenges life throws at you.

“But [the Lord] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'” 2 Corinthians 12:9a

**Have you read 90 Minutes in Heaven or Heaven is Real? What did you think?